I understand that the ESRI and Department of Finance are completing a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of Brexit on Ireland and these results are expected to be published later in March. I suspect that the jobs figure to which the Deputy refers is based on preliminary analysis undertaken by the ESRI and the Department of Finance which takes account of recently published UK impact assessments. However, I should point out that the analysis does not suggest that 55,000 jobs will be lost, but rather that employment growth will be slower than otherwise would be the case in the absence of Brexit. Nevertheless, and reflecting our still growing economy, total employment is expected to increase by around 178,000 by 2023.
In February 2018, my Department published the Copenhagen Economics report which examined the strategic implications arising for Ireland from changing EU-UK trading relations. While all scenarios examined produce a result that is less favourable than a non-Brexit scenario, the Irish economy is still expected to record strong and positive growth out to 2030. This report also highlighted a range of employment challenges, with employment shifts occurring from vulnerable agricultural and traditional manufacturing sectors towards a range of services sectors likely to experience job growth. The analysis also highlighted the disproportionate impact of Brexit on the regions.
This analysis was conducted on the basis of no policy change, that is, if no mitigation measures were taken by Government or by firms. In reality, of course, extensive work to prepare for the UK’s exit, including for a hard Brexit scenario, has been undertaken in my Department, across Government and throughout the enterprise sector. Over the course of the last three budgets I have introduced through the enterprise agencies an extensive suite of enterprise supports to assist firms to meet the challenges presented by Brexit. They range from liquidity support through short-term and long-term loans, to restructuring aid for businesses in severe operating difficulties. The majority of enterprise supports are open to all companies, including SMEs, and not just those that are clients of the enterprise agencies.